Last update: 07:00 | 20/05/2018
In early May, Vietnam’s men broke out of division three to join division two of the World Team Table Tennis Championships (open for teams ranked between 25th and 48th in the world) after beating their Israeli opponents with a score of 3-1. Together with the dethronement of the biggest regional power in the sport, Singapore, at the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, Vietnamese table tennis has been demonstrating clear-cut steps of advancement.
Nguyen Anh Tu has risen to become the leading Vietnamese table tennis player.
From the maturity of younger generations…
This time last year, Vietnam’s top-flight table tennis tournament was still dominated by the Army team veteran, Dinh Quang Linh, in the men’s singles event, as he surged past Nguyen Anh Tu of Hanoi T&T at the 2017 Nhan Dan Newspaper National Championships in the northern province of Hai Duong.
However, later in the same year, Nguyen Anh Tu escaped out of Dinh Quang Linh’s shadow by scoring two fantastic wins to bring home the first men’s team SEA Games gold medal for Vietnam after 22 years of waiting.
What made Vietnam’s victory more convincing was that the “yellow stars” defeated their Singaporean opponents, who were once well-known Chinese stars on the world arena.
During that historic match, Nguyen Anh Tu was the most brilliant performer with two victories against Clarence Chew and Pang Xue Jie, contributing significantly to Vietnam dethroning Singapore’s SEA Games reign over the past 20 years.
After gaining regional success, Anh Tu went on to finish off senior Quang Linh at the national tournament for outstanding players. Most recently, on May 5, the Hanoi star recorded two triumphs over Israeli competitors (Mathan Simon and Omri Ben Ari) at the 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships, thus joining Doan Ba Tuan Anh (beating Omri Ben Ari) to seal a 3-1 victory for the Vietnamese team in a semi-final clash, where Dinh Quang Linh lost his encounter against Yonatan Shusterman.
Members of the Vietnam table tennis team at the 2018 World Team Championships.
Looking back at the 2017 SEA Games, left-handed Doan Ba Tuan Anh paired up with his senior Quang Linh to beat Singapore’s experienced duo Gao Ning and Pang Xue Jie, contributing crucially to Vietnam’s historic title.
Despite their young age, Nguyen Anh Tu (24 years old) and Doan Ba Tuan Anh (23) are emerging as the key pillars of Vietnamese table tennis at present, and if they continue to receive greater investment, in terms of training and international competition, these two will surely make Vietnamese table tennis flourish in the future.
Previously, several famous players, such as Vu Manh Cuong and Doan Kien Quoc, won many gold medals for Vietnamese table tennis at the SEA Games and SEA Championships arenas, despite only playing with their preferred hands.
However, the rise of young player Nguyen Anh Tu is thanks to his possession of a fast and strong playing style and a comprehensive personal skill of playing well on both sides and close to the table.
This shows that it is a must for Vietnamese players to carefully train in countries that have advanced table tennis if they want to conquer the peaks in the sport.
Vietnam dethrones Singapore to claim the historic men's team title at the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Since 2016, Vietnam’s youth table tennis has been steadily catching up with the regional powers, manifested through the two silver medals secured in the boys’ U18 and girls’ U15 categories (twice losing to Singapore in the final match). Inspired by this success, the national youth table tennis team has begun to receive more investment, in terms of modern training equipment and full and adequate nutrition.
These investments would not be realised if it were not for the significant contributions of donors, who have helped Vietnamese table tennis to access advanced devices, from tables, rackets, shoes, and glue and oil used for the surface of the racket, to the best training procedures in the world.
It can be said that compared to many other sports teams, the young table tennis forces are receiving better investment with annual training trips abroad (from two to three months).
“In the last two years, we have built a good foundation in terms of organisation, discipline, fitness and techniques for the youngsters. We do hope that, in the next three years, they will make significant progress,” said Bui Xuan Ha, head coach of Vietnam’s youth table tennis team.
Thanks to the contributions of many sponsors, Vietnamese table tennis is effectively implementing the process of socialisation, thus reducing the dependence on the State’s subsidised funding.
Despite their limited international-competition attendance, Vietnam’s national team athletes have now been given more and more opportunities to join long-term training courses overseas and participate in official tournaments at a global and continental level.
Also, training with the most modern equipment and the best nutrition will help the Vietnamese players to rest assured and focus on improving their expertise to meet the expectations of the home fans.